The brutal realities of the dark places Su Tong depicts in this collection of novellas set in 1930s provincial China - worlds of prostitution, poverty, and drug addiction - belie his prose of stunning and simple beauty. The title novella, Raise the Red Lantern, which became a critically acclaimed film, tells the story of Lotus, a young woman whose father's suicide forces her to become the concubine of a wealthy merchant. Crushed by loneliness, despair, and cruel treatment, Lotus finds her descent into insanity both a weapon and a refuge. Nineteen Thirty-Four Escapes is an account of a family's struggles during one momentous year; plagued by disease, death, and the shady promise of life in a larger town, the family slowly disintegrates. Finally, Opium Family details the last years of a landowning clan whose demise is brought about by corruption, lust, and treachery - fruits of the insidious crop they harvest.